This week’s picks column is dedicated to rivalry week in college football, a force so potent it’s able to make an old leaky bucket appear charming.
Thankfully, the Hatfields-McCoys mindset in this part of the country hasn’t delved into the ridiculous. No Iron Skillet (TCU-SMU), Crab Bowl Trophy (Navy-Maryland), Telephone Trophy (Missouri-Iowa State) or Glazed Ferret (OK, I made that one up).
At least not yet. So hat’s off to the Old Oaken Bucket, Jeweled Shillelagh and the like. You’re a much-needed dose of history for an industry that could use a few more refresher courses.
USC 24, Notre Dame 23
These three letters become the alphabet’s most hated to Irish fans, with USC preventing Notre Dame from achieving regular-season perfection for the first time since 1988. Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley finally plays like the Heisman Trophy front-runner he was two months ago.
Purdue 33, Indiana 28
With a coaching change apparently in the offing in West Lafayette, the Boilers go out and win one for the Hoper. Given the feeble crowd expected, don’t expect the goalposts to come down unless play is so bad that they just leave on their own.
Ohio State 30,
The host program has won eight times since 2000, and the Buckeyes are at home. Good enough for me.
Michigan State 20,
This game doesn’t have a traveling trophy that I’m aware of. Someone concoct a likeness of Sparty with an overbite. Just trying to help.
Up for grabs: the Land of Lincoln Trophy. The Illini have won the past two years but fall as the series returns to Evanston for the first time since 2008.
Penn State 27,
This is Penn State’s bowl game, Senior Day against the reviled Badgers. More than 106,000 fans cram into Beaver Stadium to give
those players who stuck around a boisterous and well-deserved sendoff. The Nittany Lions repay them with a victory.
Nebraksa 31, Iowa 28
This one is for the coveted (I think) Heroes Trophy. The game is in Iowa City, but the Hawkeyes already have lost to Indiana and Purdue this season. I’ll say no more.
Indianapolis 31, Buffalo 23
The Bills field one of the NFL’s worst defenses, which plays right into the capable hands of Colts QB Andrew Luck and his receivers. After coming up short in New England, Indianapolis gets back on track.
Last week’s record: 10-0.
Season record: 90-25.